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Portland Travel Guide

There are more brewpubs and microbreweries there than any other city in the USA. It has a fantastic public transport system. It is renowned for its progressive politics, easy going spirit and high regard for the outdoors and environment. It is the City of Roses it is Portland Oregon’s principal city and a shining example of what a modern city can achieve.

The main focal point of City life is Pioneer Courthouse Square in the heart of the downtown area. Known as Portland’s ‘living room’ the City’s infrastructure designed in such a way that the square has become the hub of the civic events and social activities. A lively modern wide open space with flowers, trees, walls and stairs designed for sitting on you’ll find public arts, coffee shop, food vendors and entertainment in a lively yet relaxing atmosphere. Another favourite meeting place is the famous Saturday Market (which is open Sunday as well) that is held in the heart of the historic Skidmore district in Downtown. The largest open air handicraft market in the USA it is comprised of over 300 merchants selling a wealth of handmade produce including ornaments, toys, art, basketwork, candles, glasswear, jewellery, pottery, musical instruments and leather goods. There are also plenty of vendors selling delicious hot and cold food and live entertainment throughout the day.

For hundreds of thousands of Portland’s visitors the highlight of the trip is a visit to the International Rose Test Garden. Founded in 1917, it is the oldest continuously operated facility of its type in the United States with around 10,000 bushes consisting of 500 varieties of roses. The Rose Garden is only part of the beautiful Washington Park one of the oldest and best loved of Portland’s many parks. First opened in the early 20th century it is a wonderful mix of native wilderness and tasteful landscape dotted with works of art including the central fountain, the statue of Sacajawea (the first statue of a woman to be unveiled in the US) and the impressive Lewis and Clark Memorial. It is also home to Portland’s zoo, which along with 800 plus animals has its own amphitheatre for concerts, plays, shows and movie screenings. The Japanese Garden is possibly the most relaxing place in the City. The five and a half acre site consists of Strolling Pond, sand and stone garden, ceremonial teahouse and several oriental pavilions set amongst exotic trees and shrubs. For the more active there is a soccer field, tennis court, archery range and hiking trail.

Along with roses, Portland’s other obsession is beer. Often referred to as ‘Munich on the Willomette’ it is home to more than 40 microbreweries and brew pubs. This love affair dates back over 100 years when Henry Weinard suggested pumping ale through the Skidmore Fountain and today you can sample a mind boggling range of brews from English style stout to raspberry beer. To celebrate there passion for enjoying a tipple each July sees the Oregon Brewer Festival take place at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, which attracts Breweries from all over the Western coast as well as Canada, Hawaii, Louisiana, Illinois, Ohio and a dozen or so other states. With over seventy breweries providing tasting for some 90,000 beer-lovers the festival is reputedly the biggest gathering of independent craft brewers in the States.

With beer flowing so freely it doesn’t take much to realise that the nightlife is also excellent. Many of the pubs and brewhouses feature live music, in particular jazz and blues as well as comedy acts. There is also a thriving music scene featuring cutting edge rock ‘n’ roll and alternative pop music, not to mention an excellent nightclub scene. Top dance spots include Darcelle XV, Candlelight Café & Bar and Key Largo. More upmarket entertainment is also well represented. Portland has a proud tradition of theatre, creative dance and musical presentations the highlights of which can be seen at the Oregon Center For Performing Arts, Oregon Ballet Theatre and the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall home of the Oregon Symphony.

Pre-theatre, supper, breakfast or lunch, you’ll not be disappointed with Portland’s vast cosmopolitan menu. You can get delicious hot tasty snacks on almost every street corner from the hundreds of street carts. For those who like a taste of the Orient the sidewalks between Burnside and Everett are overlooked by some of the very best Chinese restaurants in Oregon. Italian, Mexican, Mediterranean, European, American its all here. For those with large appetites and tight budget Chefs Corner is destination one. You can get a five-course lunch prepared by trainees from the Western Culinary Institute for just $8.00 but make sure you book in advance.

Portland is indisputably beautiful. Encircled by vast forests and watched over by primordial volcanoes at the confluence of the great Colombia and Willamette rivers its setting is nothing short of striking. The oneness you feel with nature permeates the entire City with its lush parks and hundreds of miles of rose flanked streets. Portland has embraced modern urban development like no other inviting nature to share its space and creating an atmosphere that is both vibrant and revitalising where work and play are loved with virtually equal passion and good manners and hospitality are second nature. There are so many great cities in the USA but Portland is one of the few that can hold its hand on its proverbial heart and claim to be a ‘Very Nice City Indeed.’

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